The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero - John Matthews
Disclaimer: ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spring –Heeled Jack is enjoying something of resurgence, in part thanks to the rise of Steampunk. And if anyone was made for Steampunk, it is Spring-Heeled Jack. If you don’t know, Jack was one of those mysteries that were never solved, but does get over-shadowed by Jack the Ripper. Jack made his first appearance in 1837; he had fire and could jump very high. He was busy in London, but eventually branched out.

John Matthews traces the history of Spring-Heeled Jack in this book. He doesn’t attempt really to solve the mystery, more to enlighten the reader about the origins of the story as well as its use in current fiction.

In discussing the origins of Jack, Matthews quotes at great length from firsthand accounts and newspaper reports. He also makes links to other famous stalkers, such as the London Monster and Jack the Ripper. The use of the firsthand accounts allows the reader to form an opinion or an idea before Matthews presents more information.

Matthews links the folk character to Robin Hood and the Green Man. While I am not sure I entirely agree, it does give one food for thought and a compelling argument is presented. There is also a connection to the Punch and Judy shows which is even stronger.

The weakest part of the book was the part dealing with the modern Steampunk era. Too much of this section is devoted to a very an overly detailed summery of a radio program that sounds interesting, but why should I listen to it know when I know what is going to happen. I also found it strange that Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia was not mentioned.

Still, a very in depth look at a legend, and a much needed look at that.